House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California, on Tuesday called for multiple investigations into the publication of an animated video by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar depicting the assassination of Alexandria MP Ocasio-Cortez, New York, while waving two swords at the president. Joe Biden.
In a tweet, Pelosi called on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California, to join the condemnation of the “horrific video” and support the House Ethics Committee’s and law enforcement investigations.
“Threats of violence against members of Congress and the US president cannot be tolerated,” Pelosi said.
Gosar later issued a statement Tuesday night in which he defended the video as “a symbolic depiction of the struggle for immigration policy” and said he did not “support violence or harm to any member of Congress or Mr. Biden.”
McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment on Pelosi’s request and did not respond Monday to questions about the video.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, DN.Y., also spoke out about the controversy on Tuesday, tweeting “What a disgusting video from a pathetic man.”
Pelosi’s statement echoes a statement made earlier by the House of Representatives’ Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, which also called for an ethics inquiry.
“In any other job in America, if a colleague filmed a video of another employee being killed, that person would be fired,” said the group’s co-chairs – Matthew Cartwright (PA), Debbie Dingell (Michigan). , Ted Lie (California) and Joe Neguse (Colorado), – said in a joint statement.
“Mr. McCarthy must decide whether he will finally take the side of law and order with the American people, or will he continue to support violence and chaos,” added the Democratic MPs.
White House chief deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the video, but also said the White House will let social media companies decide how to tackle the issue.
“In this political system there is no place for any fear or any violence … And this should not happen, and we must condemn it,” she told reporters at a regular briefing on Tuesday.
Gosar’s video also drew condemnation on Tuesday from the Anti-Defamation League, which said Gosar had “repeatedly dabbled in white supremacy, provided a platform for Holocaust deniers, and now openly supports violence against political opponents.”
The group said Gosar should be convicted and deprived of his committee assignments, and said McCarthy was “morally obligated not to remain silent any longer.”
In a lengthy statement Tuesday night, Gosar said the video “depicts the symbolic nature of the struggle between legal and illegal policies” regarding immigration. He aimed at what he described as “a grossly mis-characterizing short anime video filmed by his office.”
The image of Ocasio-Cortez in the video represents “the Democrats’ open border amnesty agenda included in the Better Recovery Plan,” Gosar said, while Biden’s image reflects the president’s immigration policies.
“The video depicts a fight taking place next week on the floor of the House … and was not intended to depict any harm or violence against anyone depicted in the anime,” Gosar said in a statement first published by Politico.
Gosar has long been criticized for his extremist views, including for spreading conspiracy theories about the January 6 Trump crowd of supporters of the US Capitol attack on January 6 and the deadly rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville in 2017. In February, he appeared at an event called for white supremacy by the organizer. Later, Gosar distanced himself from the organizer’s remarks.
The congressman’s post on Sunday night, which he shared on Twitter and Instagram, appears to have gone further than his previous controversial remarks and social media posts, raising the specter of political violence similar to former President Donald Trump’s frequent allusions to an armed revolution.
“Are there any anime fans?” Gosar said in a tweet in which he shared a link to the video.
The 90-second clip appears to be a modified version of the opening credits of the Japanese animated series Attack on Titans. The show revolves around a hero who sets out to destroy the Titans, giant creatures that have swallowed nearly all of human civilization. In recent years, netizens have turned the show’s opening credits into a popular meme.
In the video posted by Gosar, the congressman is shown fighting the titans alongside Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Green (Georgia) and Lauren Bobert (Colorado). In one scene, Ocasio-Cortez’s face is edited over the face of one of the titans. Gosar flies into the air and cuts Titan’s neck from behind, killing him.
In another scene, Gosar swings two swords at an enemy whose face has been replaced by Biden’s.
Animated video scenes are interspersed with real-life footage of border officers, some standing shoulder to shoulder and others on horseback, detaining migrants at the US-Mexican border.
In one scene, blood splatters are superimposed on footage of migrants crossing the Rio Grande. In another, the words “drugs”, “crime”, “poverty”, “money”, “murder”, “gangs”, “violence” and “human trafficking” flash on the screen. The video also features footage of Gosar, the Capitol, and migrant caravans.
A Gosar employee defended the video Monday night, rejecting claims that it glorifies violence.
“Everyone needs to relax,” said Gosar digital director Jessica Lykos.
Among those who condemned the video on Monday night was Gosar’s sister, Jennifer Gosar, who criticized bipartisan leaders for not taking action against Gosar after other controversial actions.
Appearing on MSNBC, Jennifer Gosar said her brother’s behavior “gets worse because he’s not being held accountable.”
“Where are all these people? Does he need to act according to his sociopathic fantasies?” She asked.
Ocasio-Cortez responded Monday night after arriving in Glasgow, Scotland, as part of a congressional delegation. Gosar is likely to “face no consequences,” she said, because McCarthy “cheers him on with an apology.”
A Twitter spokesman said late Monday that a “public interest notice” was posted on Gosar’s tweet as it violates the company’s anti-hate policy.